Scholar of the Week

Guadalupe Martinez
University of California, Los Angeles

Since an early age, Guadalupe Martinez has witnessed how important knowledge is to the health of a community and has become an advocate for providing the Hispanic community access to good healthcare. Guadalupe joins the inaugural class of the Great Minds in STEM California Health Scholars and was awarded the Dr. Alfonso Paredes Scholarship in 2019. Guadalupe is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in Physiology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Guadalupe’s parents immigrated to Los Angeles from Oaxaca, Mexico due to the extreme poverty in their hometown. Though the immigration brought a better life for her parents, it put an emotional strain on her father who neglected his health for many years. She realized that the declining health of people like her father was mainly due to the absence of information about health risks, and the lack of access to Spanish-speaking physicians who could provide appropriate medical care and diagnosis to their Mexican patients. Emboldened by her experiences, Guadalupe decided to pursue a career in medicine.

While in high school, Guadalupe secured an internship with Kaiser Permanente Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, where she discovered a passion for working with children. At times she felt there was little she alone could do to help the infants, but realized that by working with others, much could be done. Guadalupe shares, “My co-workers valued the meaning of teamwork and made me realize that lives could be saved when we rely on one another.”

Guadalupe began attending UCLA and continued volunteering with numerous organizations, such as the Cedars Sinai Medical Center and Chicanos/Latinos for Community Medicine. Guadalupe finds particular pride in working with the Flying Samaritans, a group that helps provide medical care across the US – Mexico border in the form of monthly clinics. Through her work in Rancho Escondido in Tijuana, Mexico, Guadalupe witnessed the difference in access to medical care makes in people’s lives.

Though faced with the difficult realities of volunteer care, Guadalupe never falters and attributes a large part of her self-confidence to a deeper understanding of her culture’s rich history of dance in the form of Mexican folklore dancing. Guadalupe enjoys the freedom it brings her, sharing “Regardless of what is happening around me, every time I am on that stage, I feel invincible. It is as if the skirt has given me the wings I need to fly.”

With great strides forward, Guadalupe continues to set her sights on becoming a physician who embraces the love and care of her Hispanic community. She shares, “My mission is to become an advocate for my Hispanic community and make a difference in their life through my profession. As a woman of color, it is my responsibility to prove to the world that the STEM field was meant for me.” For her heedless dedication to providing medical care to those who go without, Great Minds in STEM is proud to recognize Guadalupe Martinez as Scholar of the Week.

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